‘Tis the season for students to give gifts to teachers. From a survey of teachers, here are some of the more interesting gifts they say they’ve received.

  I had a student who wrapped up his lunch money. He had skipped lunch that day.

  I received a used roll of duct tape.

  One year a child gave me a plate with crumbs on it. There had been cookies on it, but the kid ate them on the way to school.

  My aide received one earring. When she asked about the other one, the student said he gave it to the librarian.

  I got an avocado wrapped in aluminum foil.

  Once I received a box of chocolates and shared them with my students. Soon the kids were all spitting them out. When I looked at the box, I realized they were full of cognac.

  I received a box of chocolates one year. At home, I put it in the freezer. A few months later, I opened the freezer and took
out the box. Inside was a tie.

  A child once gave me the most unique Christmas gift ever: a mug that said “Happy St. Patrick’s Day.”

  I received a wall calendar that was about to expire

(From Justin) : Share your unique or funny gift with us! Register to be a user of this website and comment. It’s free and fun to do.


Decide Where to Place the Tree – Avoid placing your tree near a heat source (sunny windows, radiators, heating vents, and fireplaces). Try to keep the tree out of high traffic areas where it might be bumped or overturned, or where someone might trip on light cords. Avoid any spot that might be dangerous, such as next to a fire in the fireplace or up on a wobbly table.

Measure Twice – Before you go shopping or hunting for that “perfect tree,” you’ll need to decide where it will fit in your home. See placement tips above, but once a spot is chosen be sure to measure BOTH the ceiling height and the width of that space. Write these numbers down on a piece of paper. Also, measure your tree stand to determine the maximum diameter of the tree trunk you can use in it. Finally, measure the height of your tree stand as well as the height of your treetop decoration. Use all these measurements to determine the perfect height and width of the tree you’ll select for your home.

Take a Tape Measure – Take the tape measure with you when you shop. You’ll need it to measure the trees you consider so you don’t take home a 7″ diameter tree trunk for your 5″ diameter stand or a 9 foot tall tree if your ceilings are only 8 feet.

Before Leaving Home – Take heavy gloves to protect your hands, and a tape measure to help select the right size tree. Find an old blanket to protect your car from pine needles and sap. Take twine or rope to tie it securely to the car (unless you know the tree lot will provide this). Locate a saw so a fresh cut can be made before placing the tree in water. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water so your tree can start drinking water as soon as it gets home and has a fresh cut. Find your tree stand (or determine if you’ll need a new one) and set it up. Confirm the maximum tree trunk diameter that will fit into the stand.

Tree Stands – Choose a tree stand that is sturdy and the right size. Pay attention to the size of tree trunk that each stand will accommodate. The taller your tree, the bigger diameter of the trunk. If you have a tall, wide room, be sure to get a large stand for the large tree you’ll select. If you’ll put your tree on a table, a smaller stand will work fine. Look for tree stand models that hold lot of water. You’ll spend less time refilling the water pan throughout the season. Get a stand that is easily adjustable so the tree can be leveled. For more, see our article on Top Picks for Tree Stands.

Choosing a Tree – Trees with shorter needles (such as Fraser or Noble Fir) are often easier to decorate than others, as they offer some space between branches for decorations as well as some stronger stems to hold heavier ornaments. Learn more about the many types of Christmas trees and find out the characteristics and uses of each type. Get more information on types of trees.

Space Between Branches – Keep in mind that a tree looks better when the ornaments hang straight. Many trees today are groomed to be lush and full, so aware that ornaments may hang at an angle on these sheered trees. For ornaments to hang straight you’ll want a tree with some space between the branches. To test a tree, take an unbreakable ornament with you and hang it on several branches to see if there is room for it to hang straight.

Select a Fresh Tree – How can you tell if a tree is fresh? The needles should look shiny, green, and fresh — not dry or brown. They should not fall off when you pull on a branch. Read more about Selecting a Fresh Christmas Tree in this article from About.

Transporting your Tree – If possible lay the tree inside your car or trunk for the drive home. This will be difficult unless you have a large van or truck. If you drive with the tree on the roof of your car, you must tie it securely to the car. You may want to wrap it in a tarp or old blanket.

Make a Fresh Cut – Once you are home cut off at least 1/2″ from the bottom of the trunk so the tree will begin to soak up water immediately.

Get It the Right Height – Depending on your ceiling height, measure and cut more off the bottom of your tree so it fits perfectly in your space. If you’re not going to display the tree inside your house right away, stand it in a bucket of warm water in the corner of your garage, sheltered patio, or basement, out of the sun.

Make Sure It Is Stable and Level – Your tree should stand perfectly vertical. If your carpeting is thick or uneven, you may need to put down a piece of plywood so the tree stand sits on a flat, level base.

Protect Your Floor – Place a plastic or other waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand so you don’t ruin the carpet or get watermarks on hardwood flooring.

Place the Tree in the Stand – To keep loose needles off your floor, you may wish to get the tree in the stand outside. Whether you install it inside or out, you will need to tip the tree on its side and tighten the leveling clamps of the stand around the base of the trunk. Next, with help, lift the tree to a standing position, being careful not to damage the feet of the tree stand. Then make any needed adjustments in vertical alignment so the tree stands straight. Finally, carry your tree (with the stand attached) inside and into the room it will live in and fill the water reservoir of the stand with water immediately.

Optional: Secure the Stand to a Base – If you have a very large tree or are worried about it tipping over, you should try to attach your tree stand to a large, flat piece of plywood before you put the tree in the stand. This will broaden the base of the tree and give it stability.

Adjust the Top – You may need to make small adjustments on the top of your tree, depending on your ceiling height and the type of ornament (angel, star, etc.) that will be placed on the top. If your tree is too tall, clip away any stray branches that may be in the way, but avoid chopping off the tallest vertical branch if you can. This is usually a stiff branch and will be a steady foundation for the tree top decoration. Use any clippings you may have to decorate your mantle or to make a centerpiece.

Trim Any Straggling Branches – If any of the lower branches look imperfect or hit the furniture or walls, trim them off. Try to trim at an angle that is about parallel to the floor, so cuts are less noticeable. Use these extra boughs and branches to decorate your mantle or table, keeping them in water until you arrange them.

Water, Water, Water – Always keep your fresh tree in a stand that holds lots of water. Check the water level daily. For the first few days, you may even need to refill the water every few hours! (Set a timer to remind you to check it.) After about a week the water intake will slow down and daily refills should be fine.

Water, or more? – Plain water is all you need to keep your tree fresh, though there are water additives and sprays you can purchase that promise to keep trees fresh longer. Ask about them where you buy your tree, or at a local garden center.

How to Water – The best way is also the hardest way. You’ll need some towels, a water jug, and some patience. Climb in close to the tree stand. If you can’t see the water level, place one finger into the water reservoir and begin to add water slowly. (A watering can with a long spout is helpful.) Stop adding water when you feel the water on your finger. Wait a few moments to make sure no water leaks onto the floor.

Secure It – If you have children or pets running around and are concerned about them knocking the tree over, be sure to secure it to a wall or a stable piece of furniture. Tie it securely in several places with fish line, twine, or cording attached to small eyehooks. Be sure that the tie lines are out of reach and won’t pose any danger to children or animals.

When Christmas is Over, Recycle – Call your waste management company or city hall to find out how to recycle your tree for mulch.

Do Not Burn Your Tree! – You should never burn your Christmas tree or branches, as this could present a severe fire danger. Dispose of your tree according to local regulations via trash collection, chipping for mulch, or recycling.


As mentioned on the Star Morning Show. You are going to be the hit of the Thanksgiving dinner with these little gems. You’ll have them begging for more, or find yourself eating alone next year.  Happy Thanksgiving – Justin Flores

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims!

Why did the turkey cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off.

If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for? Their age!

What happened when the turkey got into a fight? He got the stuffing knocked out of him.

Why can’t you take a turkey to church? Because they use such fowl language.

What are the feathers on a turkey’s wings called? Turkey feathers.

What’s the best dance to do on Thanksgiving? The turkey trot.

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building? Absolutely — a building can’t jump at all.

How can you make a turkey float? You need two scoops of ice cream, some root beer and a turkey.

What kind of music did the Pilgrims like? Plymouth Rock.

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers? The outside.

What key has legs and can’t open doors? A turkey.

Why didn’t the turkey eat dessert? Because he was stuffed.

What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children? If your father could see you now, he’d turn over in his gravy.


Are you in charge of the turkey this year? Here’s a timeline that may help, from Chow.com.

  If you are using a frozen turkey, put it in the refrigerator to start defrosting NOW. Since the average 12- to 16-pound bird takes three to four full days to thaw it should have probably gone in Sunday, but if your bird’s on the small side you’ll be OK.

  Tuesday: Check that you have all your cookware, serving pieces, utensils, etc.; make your shopping list.

  Wednesday: Do your shopping the day before so that your produce is fresh. The cranberry sauce, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pie can all be made ahead. Remember that the turkey will take up the oven for about three hours on Thursday.

  Thursday: Roast the turkey. While it cooks, do your stovetop cooking and setup. When the bird comes out to rest, put all your premade sides back in the oven to warm up. Do the gravy last, as well as dressing a salad or heating bread if you’re serving it.


A new Consumer Reports poll has exposed the secret, selfish underbelly of electronics shopping on Black Friday weekend: It isn’t all about buying for friends and family. A lot of consumers plan to buy gear for themselves. Some 70 percent of those who planned to shop on Black Friday weekend said they would be looking for electronics. While 78 percent of those gear buyers will be gift shopping, 55 percent will be shopping for themselves.

(From Justin) When you’re shopping on Black Friday weekend, are you looking for deals for yourself, too, or sticking strictly with gifts for others?

November 19th is National Thaw Day

According to the professionals, thawing a turkey, especially a big one, takes some time. I listed the recommended thawing methods and times below. Gobble Gobble – Justin Flores

Refrigerator Thawing:

  • Thaw breast side up, in unopened wrapper, on a tray in the refrigerator.
  • Allow for at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey.

Cold-Water Thawing:

  • Thaw breast side down, in unopened wrapper, in enough cold water to cover it completely.
  • Change the water frequently to keep the turkey chilled.
  • Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per pound for a whole turkey.

Progress on the Phoenix Lake Bridge

In our gallery, we have posted some great pictures of the progress of the Phoenix Lake Bridge. Thanks to Sharon Mikesell of the Tuolumne County Public Works Office for sending them in.

Click This Picture To Go To The Gallery Of Photos

Click This Picture To Go To The Gallery Of Photos


Menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner dropped 4% this year. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner, this year’s feast for 10 is $42.91, a $1.70 price decrease from last year’s average of $44.61.

… The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10.

… The cost of a 16-pound turkey, at $18.65 or roughly $1.16 per pound, reflects a decrease of 3 cents per pound.

… Milk, at $2.86 per gallon, dropped $.92 and was the largest contributor to the overall decrease in the cost of the 2009 Thanksgiving dinner.

… Other items showing a price decrease this year were: a ½ pint of whipping cream, $1.55; a 12-oz. package of brown-n-serve rolls, $2.08; a 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, $.72; and a 12-oz. package of fresh cranberries, $2.41. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) also dropped in price, to $2.50.

… Items that increased slightly (less than 5 percent) in price this year were: a 14-oz. package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.65; two 9-inch pie shells, $2.34; and a 30-oz. can of pumpkin pie mix, $2.45.

(From Justin): That’s it! I’m hungry. I can eat a Thanksgiving dinner every week, how ’bout you?


I read this on the air and broke down cause I realized all 4 of my grandparents are gone. Very powerful stuff here. Hug a grandparent today! – Justin Flores

We live in an age of babies. I’m dead serious. By the time your grandfather was your age — 30 or 40 — he’d already lived 3 lives.

* CIVIL RIGHTS — Your grandfather was dealing with the issue of civil rights, segregation and race relations. No matter what race he was, this was an issue he was no doubt facing. The structure of entire cities, such as Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, were irreversibly changed because of racial riots that broke out two generations ago.

* HE FIXED HIS CAR BY HIMSELF — Nowadays, when a light comes on the dashboard we automatically take the car to the shop. We never think that we can fix the car by ourselves. With all of the electronics being used today, it’s easy to just leave it to the dealership to fix. Fifty years ago, however, it’s likely that most problems could have been fixed with some grease and a wrench.

* HE HITCHHIKED, OR PICKED UP A HITCHHIKER — In fact, after he left the military he probably did something awesome like hitchhike across the state… or the country.

* HE WAS IN WWII, KOREA, VIETNAM, OR IN DANGER OF BEING DRAFTED — We’re currently dealing with the war on terrorism, but your grandfather had to deal with the war against communism — and the knowledge that if he didn’t join up Uncle Sam would join him up. Today’s solider made the decision for themselves — your grandfather likely had the decision made for him.

* HE SHAVED WITH A STRAIGHT RAZOR — Four blades? Try one single blade, shaped like a knife.

* HE WAS GENUINELY PATRIOTIC — In the 1950s and early 1960s patriotism wasn’t just an idea talked about on Fox News, it was a common sentiment. America was coming off of World War II and there was a large amount of national pride. Rosie the Riveter had cemented the idea that everyone had pitched in and helped the United States win the war. This helped to reinforce a patriotic attitude that your grandfather still holds today.